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Beetlejuice Film Review

Updated on November 27, 2012
Michael Keaton as the insane Bio-Exorcist, Beetlejuice
Michael Keaton as the insane Bio-Exorcist, Beetlejuice

Directed by Tim Burton

Written by Michael McDowell, Larry Wilson and Warren Skaaren

Starring Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davies

Released 1988


A young couple who die in a car accident find themselves back in their house, but the house has been bought by a family from the city who are intent on putting their own stamp on the place. Determined to oust the new residents, the deceased couple look to a Bio-Exorcist called Betelgeuse, who says he can help them rid the house of the living.


Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davies) are a young couple living in their dream home in a sleepy town in a quiet corner of the USA. On a trip to pick up some provisions from the town, they swerve to avoid a dog on a bridge and end up crashing the car and falling in to the water. The next thing they know, they are back in the house, but something isn't right. A book on the coffee table, The Handbook For The Recently Deceased, confirms to them that they are dead.

Their first attempt to scare the new family away doesn't go well, they perform all manner of grusome acts, but it seems that they have a lot to learn about being a ghost, as none of their attempts work at all. It is during a look through their Handbook, that they discover a flyer for Betelgeuse, an entity who claims he can rid houses of the living. To resurrect Betelgeuse, they must say his name 3 times, but they are warned off from calling on him by their case worker.

It turns out that the daughter of the family Deetz, is able to see Adam and Barbara and isn't scared of them. She tries to tell her parents that the house is haunted but they ignore her and carry on regardless.

It is now that they make the decision to call on Betegeuse and use his talents to rid the house the unwanted, alive people!

My View

Beetlejuice represents Tim Burton's debut on the big screen after a raft of TV work. The film mirrors all of the elements that we now see in a Burton film. Exagerated characters and set pieces adorn the film and make every scene larger than life. The film also saw early big screen performances from Alec Baldwin, Geena Davies, and Winona Ryder, who all deliver fantastic performances in their relative roles. But it is Keaton who is cast as the uncontrolable Bio-Exorcist, Betelgeuse. His portayal of the ridiculously over the top character is akin to the performance Heath Ledger gae as the unforgettable Joker. His mannerisms and brilliantly dark take on Burton's humour are first class. He gives us a hugely dark comedic individual who is also someone who you wouldn't want to leave alone with your children.

As with all of his films Burton gives us the larger than life and the film has some really stand out moments, and this film will always be remembered for the Banana Boat Song!

Banana Boat Song

Remember this is 1988 so the Special Effects that are used in the film are a little 'rubbery' in places, but that can be totally overlooked in the larger scheme of the film and what it delivers in story and grandeur.

A wonderful introduction to the wacky world of Tim Burton's mind and a fore runner of all that has come since and probably still to come. Great performances from Baldwin and Davies and a young Ryder only add to the manically brilliant Keaton, all go to create a dark comedy that everyone should see at least once!




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    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 5 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      That would be a great role for him! There's still time!

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Maybe Heath was a Beetlejuice fan? ;)

      Well they have the same bleached face and unkempt hair. Except the Joker didn't have fungus growing on his face. Funny you should find that connection considering Keaton played Batman facing off against the Joker. Keaton would have played a great comic book villain given the chance.

    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 5 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      @Steve Lensman The more I watch this film and Keaton's amazing performance of Betelgeuse, the more I see Heath Ledger's Joker, what do we reckon?

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice! I watched this so many times back when it was still brand new and it's still enjoyable today.

      Keaton was hilarious as the horny bio-exorcist with his eye on Winona. People were shocked when Keaton was picked to play Batman in Burton's next film but it turned out very well, the film broke box office records.

      Thanks for the review. Voted Up.

    • Birgitta Zoutman profile image

      Birgitta Zoutman 5 years ago

      I loved this film and watched it many times, thanks for reminding me of it. Keaton was brilliant in it and on re-watching I'm sure I'll enjoy spotting all those Burton trademarks with my sons. Great Hub, voted up.